RunSmart Leyland running group visit
10 March 2016
England Athletics visited North West Run England Group; ‘RunSmart Leyland’ earlier this week with Product Development Manager Dan Parkinson joining over 70 runners in a frosty Monday evening session. They all soon managed to warm up and took part in a fun-filled group running session.
RunSmart have two sessions that take place each week, featuring 5km and 8km routes on Mondays and 5km or 7km on Wednesdays. The routes are known beforehand and advertised on Facebook. There are specified looping points which Run Leaders encourage the runners to observe as loop backs but some do wait before heading off again once the back of the group catches up. The LiRF (Leadership in Running Fitness) qualified Run Leader takes the warm up before the group sets off - usually with two LiRF leaders and two experienced but non-qualified leaders. After a cool down, cake is often on offer for those that want a chat afterwards.
Damian Clapham is a Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and set the Group up with Carl Fisher (LiRF) almost 2 years ago, "I felt there was a significant opportunity for an organised group run in the Leyland area for a mixed group. There is a women only group that meet up but they do not have mixed sessions. I also felt that there was a need to provide later sessions at around 8pm. Most of the local groups and clubs meet before 7pm and I always struggled to make it to them through work or family commitments so ended up running on my own later, I couldn't be on my own in this."
The very first session had 6 runners who were mainly friends, in the first year it ended up averaging 30-40 runners on a Monday night. The next 6 months saw this rise to 40 or 50 runners and now the Monday night averages 70-80 runners and the New Wednesday night averages about 30 runners and is growing. Some runners come once or twice a month only but they have had 125 different runners take part already this year.
Damian continued, "I also felt the local club structure - while very good with a wide range of clubs available - always seemed a daunting environment for new or non-club runners. RunSmart by remaining independent could enable runners from these clubs to mix more with non-club runners and new runners. It provides a stepping stone while not stepping on the toes of local clubs. It’s great that many beginners/runners are making that step up to join the local clubs and I hope the clubs can see the benefit of having a group like RunSmart alongside their normal club nights."
The beginners' courses have already seen lots of success. Sarah Eccles said, "I started running on the beginner’s course with RunSmart and have never looked back. I had never run before, was overweight and very unfit. I felt very self-conscious on arrival, but was instantly put at ease by the leaders. The encouragement and support of other runners, all with their own personal reasons for starting was also crucial. Now, I feel a different person. Not only did I finish the course, but have gone on to do parkrun, 10k races and am now building up to my first half marathon in September. None of this could have been achieved without RunSmart, it’s fantastic, committed and supportive leaders and all the other Run Smarties that began with me. As if that isn’t enough… I have met and made some fabulous friendships and lost over two stone in weight. I can’t imagine life without running now."
After the session this week, Dan Parkinson said, "I really enjoyed it; I was made to feel extremely welcome by Damian and the rest of the RunSmart team. The session was well managed by a number of qualified Run Leaders who ensured the group were able to enjoy the route. I would certainly recommend this session to anyone who fancies a run with other like-minded people, you can go at your own pace, are supported by a confident team of Run Leaders and it's free of charge!"
England Athletics are really keen on finding out how members of the public experience running and will be visiting at least one Run England group every month throughout 2016. If you are interested in a member of the England Athletics team visiting your Run England group please contact Dan Parkinson, Product Development Manager firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.